How long do your wheel bearings last?
If you drive with your windows down and hear a low rumble, grinding or clicking sound underneath your car, you've probably got a problem with your wheel bearings. The most classic and common indication that your wheel bearing would need replacing is a rolling clunky noise that increases frequency along with your speed. The sound you hear is most likely a group of roller elements that have come loose inside the race and are rattling around. This is troubling, since the principal function of the rollers inside your wheel bearing are to keep your axle rotating smoothly inside it while the outer race is pressed firmly in the hub and steering knuckle. When that ability is compromised, you could end up with worn tires, braking issues, and loss of steering control. No one wants that, so if you need a new wheel bearing or want to get a start on your preventative maintenance you should replace yours as soon as possible.
What are your wheel bearings doing while you drive?
It is believed that the large stones that make up the formation of Stonehenge were sourced from dozens of miles away, and the people that constructed it used a long track topped with logs on top of which the stones were pushed to their destination. Those logs were acting as roller bearings. Throughout history, caged roller element bearings
made from wood have been used for all sorts of machines with axial movement. The first metal ball bearing was created in the late 18th century, and common in bicycles and other machinery throughout the 19th century. Today, the most common elements inside wheel bearings are tapered or spherical rollers due to their ability to handle high loads and both axial and radial movements. As long as the bearing races are aligned properly and the elements are greased, a wheel bearing can function for tens of thousands of miles. Fun fact: Henry Timken and Reginald Heinzelman hold US Patent 606,635 issued June 28, 1898 for their invention of the tapered roller bearing for use in vehicles.
Getting it done on a Saturday.
Removing and changing your wheel bearings takes time and is not for the faint of heart. Before doing this job, you must already know how to remove and replace your brake caliper and rotor, wheel hub, CV axle, steering knuckle, and perhaps your control arms, struts or shocks (depending on your car's set up). If you are not comfortable with all this, have a mechanic replace your wheel bearings.
- First, lift your vehicle and rest it on jack stands. Be sure the car is on level ground before performing any work. You can remove the wheel(s) at this time as well.
- Next, remove the brake parts from the wheel hub. If you have drums, then remove the drum, wheel cylinder, and shoes. If you have discs, then remove the caliper and rotor.
- You will now see the hub assembly, and all the hardware that fastens it to the steering knuckle and/or axle. Remove all the hardware including the spindle locknut in the center.
- Then, remove the wheel hub assembly and take the wheel bearing out using a special puller tool. If the bearing is stuck or spun into the hub, you may have to use a chisel to cut or pry away the inner race.
- Clean the hub and prepare it for the new wheel bearing. You will also need to replace the existing bearing seals with new ones as well.
- Now it's time to drive the new bearing into the wheel hub. For this you must have a wheel bearing race driver kit.
- Finally, re-install all the other previously removed components in reverse order observing proper manufacturer tolerances and torque specifications.
Decisions, decisions, decisions.
There are a lot of wheel bearing manufacturers out there, and some are better than others. At Car Parts Discount, we carry all the top brand names like SKF, Koyo, INA, NSK, Timken, and more; all at great prices. All of those brands produce OEM quality wheel bearings, and are worth the money. However, for the buyer on a budget, we carry a lot of replacement reproduction wheel bearings as well. We make buying your parts easy, and shipping is fast. So don't delay replacing your wheel bearings - buy now.